BY SEÁN P. FEENY
A PLAN to save and maintain the communities of Arranmore, Inishboffin and Tory was launched last Monday. The Donegal Islands Survival Plan, a three-year survival plan for Donegal islands, was launched on Arranmore with the welcome support of elected representatives.
The report was launched by Minister of State at the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Dinny McGinley TD, at the Cultural Centre.
Also present at the launch of the report, compiled by highly respected anthropologist Alyne Delaney of Aalborg University, Denmark, were South West TDs, Pearse Doherty and Thomas Pringle, who pledged their support to the islanders.
Jerry Early, spokesperson for the Donegal Islands, said the community was very pleased with the successful launch and the positive feedback.
“Our elected representatives have committed to working together and leaving aside party politics considering the seriousness of this issue.”
Mr Early said he was confident that the deputies would stick to their commitments given at Monday’s launch. “This is the first time, as islanders, that we really got the chance to sit with our elected representatives to discuss our islands’ future.”
‘A Case for Combining Social and Environmental Sustainability in Irish Island Communities’ was commissioned by the islanders and produced entirely without funding.
It calls on the government to look at creating opportunities within the following management measures – Easing the 2006 ban on salmon fishing; Easing the regulations that restrict fishing in area V1 A and new governance and stakeholder actions.
Mr Early said: “I think our deputies have realised how alarming the figures are given in the report. Arranmore alone has lost 40 per cent of its community over the last 24 years.
“CSO figures quotes in the report show Arranmore, for example, as an extremely disadvantaged area, similar to areas in inner city Dublin and Limerick.”
Mr Early, who himself has had five siblings return to America, said he was part of a generation that was blessed with having the opportunity of growing up on the island, and they wished to ensure that this opportunity is there for the future generations.
He said: “Island life is not a hardship, it’s the greatest place in the world to grow up in, but if the infrastructure is not in place and we’re not allowed to utilise the resource we are completely surrounded by, the ocean, this life is really in jeopardy.”
Mr Early said all the islanders want from the government is a ‘little foresight’. “This could end up a really positive story, which already has received a lot of national attention.
“All we want is to go back to our traditional way of fishing on the island, that’s a twelve-mile radius around the island, a drop in the ocean.
“People don’t make a distinction between the small inshore fishers and the large fishing vessels working out of Killybegs. An island fisherman is never going to get wealthy out of fishing – all he wants to do is make a living and sustain a way of life,” he said.